As both the White House and the new leadership in Congress consider a possible expansion of border enforcement, we call on our nation's leaders to consult with border communities about the policies that will directly affect them. Specifically, we call on our nation's leaders to address the rampant and widely reported abuse and impunity at CBP before any expansion of border enforcement is considered. 

Only days after Politico Magazine reported that between 2005 and 2012, nearly one CBP officer was arrested every single day for misconduct, our nation's leaders are calling for more border enforcement without heeding the warning signs of an agency that appears out of control. Oversight over an out-of-control police force must be at the forefront of any conversation about border enforcement. 


Accountability, transparency, and oversight are not partisan issues. They are about  responsible government and controlling the largest law enforcement agency in this country with jurisdiction 100 miles from our land and sea borders, an area in which approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population lives. 

Because border enforcement is concentrated on the southern border, concerns about abuse and impunity are particularly alarming for the tens of millions of residents who call the southern border region home. This includes residents of cities like San Diego, Tucson, Las Cruces, El Paso, and Brownsville. 

Our communities have endured the ill effects of excessive, expensive, and unaccountable enforcement which has eroded the quality of life for border communities, has interrupted legitimate trade, and has created a wedge between law-enforcement agencies and residents. We do not need more of this kind of enforcement. 

It's time to leave the border rhetoric behind and focus on the border reality. The border region is more secure than ever before, cross-border trade is generating more revenue for our economy and creating more U.S. jobs than ever before, and our border communities are more vibrant and contributing more to this country than ever before. But all of this is undermined by expensive, excessive and unaccountable enforcement. 

It's time to revitalize, not militarize our border communities. It's time to invest in our families, our students, our infrastructure, our cultural heritage, our public safety and our ports-of-entry, all of which can strengthen our nation, fuel our economy, and uphold our values of justice for all. This is the border you need to know and speak about. 

We ask the incoming leadership to help us turn the page of border policy that opens a new chapter filled with stories of hope, compassion, justice, prosperity and celebration that can be found amongst our many historic and resilient communities along the southern border.

Ramirez is director of the Southern Border Communities Coalition and Human Rights director at Alliance San Diego.